Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Why we seldom get morally principled leaders.

I posted this at The New Clarion yesterday and am re-posting it here today.

The Friday Jan 6th print edition of the Detroit Free Press carried an oped by Leonard Pitts Jr of the Miami Herald titled "Ron Paul is foolishly consistent in his extremism." He starts it out with this Ralph Waldo Emerson quote: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds" I'll skip the fact that there may be some debate over the contextual meaning of that quote in some circles and just focus on how Mr. Pitts uses it as received wisdom. I will quote a few passages with my comments in brackets.

"Ralph Waldo Emerson, meet Ronald Ernest Paul. He is the very soul of a foolish consistency. Meaning that he is willing, often to a fault, to follow his ideology to its logical and most extreme conclusions." [Right off the bat, Pitts is using extremism to smear Paul's consistency i.e. integrity. "(T)o a fault" means excessive, too much, but no argument is given as to why extreme consistency or integrity is a fault. Why is a man who is extremely honest faulty?]

"In this, the congressman differs from other GOP contenders for the White House and, for that matter, from most politicians, period. Your average pol might rail against the intrusion of government into the private lives of its citizens, then turn right around and advocate a law regulating what a gay man does in his bedroom--and see no contradiction. [Very true] Paul is too intellectually honest for that." [Mr. Pitts, you're starting to make Paul look really good]

"Intellectual honesty is a good thing, if only because it can lead you to reconsider a faulty premise.(If only? It has no other value?) But in Paul's take on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, he doubles down on the bad premise instead." [Here Pitts confuses government enforced segregation with private prejudice and treats them as equal malfactors which of course they're not. Here the 'bad premise' is private prejudice.]

"In other words, forcing a restaurant to take down a Whites Only sign infringed the rights of the restaurant owner.[Yes, it did] A similar argument was made by segregationists in 1964--and by slave owners in the 1850s." [Not actually. Slavery and the Jim Crow laws were enforced by local and state governments and should have been repealed. Had they been repealed sooner, market forces would have eroded the private prejudices even sooner than history shows.]

"Can government be overlarge, overbearing, overwhelming, overrestrictive, overintrusive? Of course. And where it is those things, it is the right--and duty--of the electorate to pare it back." [Obviously Mr. Pitts doesn't think today's government is any of those things because the Tea Party which he opposes, exists to pare it back. Notice too that he doesn't object to the government being restrictive or intrusive, just overly so. He doesn't understand that he is actually saying don't overchain your slaves but chains are ok. But what would happen if the chains were removed completely?]

"On the other hand,unless you enjoy salmonella in your food and lead in your paint, unless you think it's OK that your doctor has no medical degree and your lawyer no licence, unless you're fine with breathing sooty air and drinking tainted water, and unless you really think a black woman in Mississippi, locked out of public places by threat of violence and force of law, should have been required to wait on market forces to rescue her, you must regard Paul's moral imbecility with a certain awe." [This is a partial rewrite of history. According to Pitts we were walking over bodies in the streets who died from salmonella, lead, tainted water and air and doctors and lawyers who didn't have government permissions to practice until the caring, loving government came along to save us all. Utter nonsense.]

[I have noticed that when statists mentalities are on the brink of achieving or losing their goals, they become more bold in the accuracy with which they identify their true goals and ideals.]

"Heaven help us if the intellectual rigidity he symbolizes is really the only alternative to the intellectual malleability of so many of his colleagues." [Wow! An open admission that intellectual malleability is the ideal, the norm to be achieved and admired. I will only add that Mr. Pitts is to be admired for his cognitive precision in identifying the intellectual status of Paul's Republican colleagues.]

With pundits like Mr. Pitts bombarding the public with ideas like this it is no wonder that the public has no principled leaders. My hope is that there are principled leaders out there taking notes on the election campaigns and deciding whether the public is ready for principled leadership. I think a growing number are. I just don't know how big that number needs to be to turn this country around. Perhaps 2012 will give us a clearer picture.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Objectivist roundup Jan 12 2011

This issue has posts on things like Inflation, the impact of entitlement programs on debt, Religious conservatism vs Islam, fighting for your life and the truth about Romneycare and a lot more.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Objectivist roundup #234

This week's Objectivist roundup is at Rational Jenn where you can read posts on things like "Thoughts on Drawing" or the "importance of mathematics" or on "When goals flounder, review your central purpose' and much more from an Objectivist perspective.